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Apple 'diverts' iPad components to iPhone 13 production, Euro sources not feeling pinch yet

Resellers: Cupertino is doing OK compared to PC makers

A component shortfall is reportedly forcing Apple to divert supplies of essential innards to the iPhone 13 at the expense of the iPad – though European suppliers are not yet seeing elongated lead times for buyers in all but the basic models.

iPad volumes produced by Apple’s contract manufacturers were down 50 per cent for the past two months on the company’s earlier forecasts, according to the Nikkei – both hardware shares common components, including core and peripheral chips. The financial paper cited multiple sources saying the firm was taking parts from iPad Peter to build iPhone Paul.

The apparent decision by Apple was in anticipation of demand for the latest handset, released in September. The Christmas quarter – Apple's Q1 – is typically the busiest of its financial calendar and the iPhone is the biggest seller.

Senior sources in the Apple's European reseller channel told us that relative to PC makers Apple had done a pretty good job of maintaining availability. "Yes, some of the basic models are impacted, but we are still getting kit easily compared to HP and Lenovo," said one.

He added that iPad Pro and iPad mini were in fairly free supply.

El Reg hopped onto the Stock In The Channel tool and found pockets of shortages among certain 11" and 12" iPad variants. The resellers, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, said lead times were at weeks rather than days but pointed out that the biggest PC vendors are quoting delivery dates up to five months out.

Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Apple CFO Luca Maestri said during its Q4 earnings call last week that he expects "the impact from supply constraints to be larger” during the current quarter which closes in January.

"We expect revenue for each product category to grow on a year over year basis except for iPad, which we expect to decline year over year due to supply constraints," he added.

Some $31.862bn worth of iPads were shipped by Apple in the 12 months ended 25 September [PDF], up more than 34 per cent year on year.

The pandemic has been kind to makers of computing hardware that helped people work and study at home during lockdown. That trend may be on the wane, however, and during calendar Q3 analyst IDC recorded a 9.4 per cent drop in tablet units shipped worldwide to 42.3 million. Apple bucked the trend and consolidated its position at the top of the market by growing 4.6 per cent to 14.7 million iPads.

"Though reduced demand is largely to blame for the declines in these categories, limited supply has also been a factor," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC's mobility and consumer device tracker.

"The combination of these two factors is likely to create opportunity for PC makers as shared components, production capacity, and freight availability could be shifted to other categories such as Windows notebooks or perhaps gaming PCs, which continue to see higher demand and greater profitability," Ubrani added. ®

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